Smooth Sailing – Crossing the Canadian border

Its that time of year again! Crossing the Canadian/US border isn't what it used to be. Follow these simple tips to make your experience as smooth as possible!

Simple Tips for a Smooth Experience at the Border:
By:Joel Prunty


Not that long ago, crossing the Canadian border for American residents was not much different than crossing into another state. But, in an instant on a beautiful September day in 2001, the longest friendly border in the world had changed.

No one could have guessed the events that took place on 9/11 would have impacted so many anglers headed to their favorite Canadian lake...but it did.

The biggest change, however, occurred when the U.S. and Canadian governments realized that they needed to get a handle on the who/what/where/why and when of people crossing the border. For starters the U.S. government tightened the border in 2009 by requiring everyone entering the U.S.to possess a passport. In an instant, the decade’s old policy of waving people across the border had changed to spot-checking people in each vehicle.

With these new procedures and policies in mind, here are Fishulo’s best tips for breezing across the border on your trip to Canada this summer:




Border Crossing Tips:


1.) Know the Basics – The border crossing agent will ask: where are you from, where are you staying, for how long and how much alcohol and tobacco are in your possession? Respond quickly and accurately.

2.) Look the Part – Show the border agent that you know what you’re doing: have your passport in hand, take off your sunglasses, look the agent in the eye, and only give them the information they ask for in the simplest terms.

3.) Driving Across – Before pulling your vehicle up to the facility, roll down all windows facing the border agent, turn down your radio, have the passports for all vehicle occupants in your hand, and ONLY the driver answers the questions. Turst me, you don’t want two people in the vehicle blurting out conflicting answers.

4.) Transgressions - If you have a drunk driving conviction in your past, it doesn’t have to prevent you from experiencing the best freshwater fishing in the world. There agencies out there who specialize in assisting those with a DUI in crossing the border. Check out Canada Border Crossing Services.

5.) Know your Fish Limits and Verify – On the return trip, double, and triple check your fish counts before you get to the border. The last thing that you want is to be in violation of possession limits because someone miscounted the fish.


Duty Free limits (You can exceed these limits, but they will be subject to tax and duty.)

  • Alcohol – Per Person: One case of beer, or 1.5 liters of wine, or 40 oz of liquor.
  • Tobacco – Per Person: 10 packs of cigarettes, or 50 cigars

For a complete list visit Canada Border Crossing


Prohibited items:

  • Live Bait-Fish of any kind Including Minnows and Leeches (Minnows and leeches are reasonably priced in Canada).
  • Night Crawlers in Dirt – You can, however, take them in artificial bedding
  • Dog Food with Meat Byproducts
  • Firewood
  • Radar Detectors


Here are a few websites to visit before crossing the border this summer:

Canada Welcomes You – Answers to all of your Questions

Border Wait Times – Real Time Information

U.S. State Department – Passport Requirements



See you in Canada!



To begin planning your next Canadian trip, visit our Adventure Match to find the perfect lodge to suit your personal fishing and/or hunting preferences.


Editors Note: Joel Prunty is the president of Fishulo,llc and is passionate about using his expertise in Canadian wilderness travel to assist anglers and hunters in planning adventures. Over a 20 year association with a Canadian fishing and hunting sportshow producer, Joel visited over 300 of Canada's BEST lodges, resorts and outfitters. He currently sits on the Marketing Advisory Council for Tourism Saskatchewan and was previously named the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association‘s (NOTO) member-of-the-year.

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